A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is intended to entertain, rather than educate, but kids may learn a little about the Depression and New York City in the 1930s.
Families can be based on more than blood relationships. Loyalty and friendship are strong themes, as are courage, gratitude, and perseverance. Promotes the "rags to riches through determination" idea of the American dream, which is idealized and not achievable for all.
Positive Role Models
Annie displays grit, determination, and optimism as she tries to make the best of her situation. Sometimes she tries to solve problems by fighting but does better when she shows kindness to others. Her friends are loyal to her, and Daddy Warbucks and Grace grow to love her and want to help her. Grace demonstrates a strong moral code by insisting Annie stay with them. On the downside, Miss Hannigan is irresponsible and conniving, and Rooster and Lily tell lies, steal, and try to cheat Daddy Warbucks. They care more about money than Annie's safety or happiness.
The only non-White characters are Daddy Warbucks' bodyguards, "Punjab," played by Black Trinidadian American Geoffrey Holder, and "The Asp," who is East Asian (Hawaiian actor Roger Minami). Grace treats them with respect and they're good at their jobs, but both are portrayed in racist ways: They're servants, generic "Eastern-sounding" music plays around them, and they're insensitively named ("Punjab" is a region in India, and "asp" is a generic term for a poisonous snake). Punjab plays into cliché of "magical" Eastern cultures by having mind control, healing, and levitation powers. On the plus side, the film tackles wealth inequality by contrasting Annie's poor living conditions with Daddy Warbucks' "billionaire" lifestyle. Adoption and non-parent caretakers are represented as good ways to form strong, loving families. Women have stereotypical jobs like secretary and maid, but girls and women are important heroes and villains in the story. President Roosevelt uses a wheelchair, and some domestic workers have different body sizes, although most characters are thin. Film minimizes and makes light of the seriousness of alcohol addiction.
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Violence & Scariness
Peril: Annie hangs from a bridge after being kidnapped and chased by a man who's trying to hurt her. Someone throws a lit bomb into Daddy Warbucks' office. Miss Hannigan often shoves the children around and is generally cruel to them by denying them food and sleep and threatening them. Children get in a few fistfights and sing about forcing Miss Hannigan to drink a drugged beverage. Annie stops a group of boys from harming a dog that Miss Hannigan later threatens to send to the "sausage factory."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and insinuations between Lily and Rooster. Flirting from Miss Hannigan, including the phrases "make hay" and a "tumble with the bundle."
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"Goddamn." Children are referred to as "pig droppings" and "brats."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Miss Hannigan often appears drunk, slurring her speech and clutching bottles of alcohol. Adult characters smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Annie is the beloved 1982 adaptation of the popular radio show, comic strip, and Broadway musical. Overall, it's a charming and entertaining family movie that's full of memorable songs. Annie (Aileen Quinn) and her friends demonstrate courage, gratitude, and perseverance in tough situations. But Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), who runs the ramshackle orphanage where intrepid, determined Annie lives, is often drunk, slurring her speech and clutching bottles of liquor in a way that's intended to be funny. She's also cruel to the children in her care. There's kissing, flirting, and occasional references to sex ("make hay," "tumble with the bundle"). Things never get too scary, but someone throws a lit bomb into an office, and some tense scenes show Annie hanging from a bridge after being kidnapped and chased. Women have stereotypical jobs like secretary and maid but are important in the story. The movie also includes racist stereotyping in the form of bodyguards Punjab (Geoffrey Holder) and The Asp (Roger Minami) and promotes the "rags to riches" idea of the American dream, which is idealized and not achievable by all. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This beloved adaptation of the Broadway musical is sometimes uneven, but its charms take over by the end. The songs in Annie are a mixed bag -- "Dumb Dog" is just not all that good, but you'll have "It's the Hard-Knock Life" stuck in your head for days, and by the time Annie sings "Tomorrow" to President Roosevelt, you'll be singing it along with her.
Some of the performances are outstanding, particularly Burnett as Miss Hannigan. In the title role of Annie, Quinn is a fine singer, if not all that dynamic otherwise. The orphan girls are fun, and Finney is wonderfully brusque but really an old softy as Daddy Warbucks. One definite issue is the racist portrayal of Warbucks' bodyguards, Punjab and The Asp. Be sure to talk to kids about why this kind of representation is problematic.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.